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(Can't take credit for the subject line; that's all brainiacfive.)

I went into BHUS' first ep with the intention of seeing it as much as possible with fresh eyes, and not just comparing constantly.

The bad news is that said intention pretty much went out the window due to how closely they adhered to the events, and to some extent the structure, of the original UK pilot. (For clarification, in case there's anyone reading who isn't aware of such a thing, I'm talking about the pilot that aired about a year before the series proper began, with a somewhat different tone and almost entirely different cast, the only carryovers to the series being Russell Tovey and Dylan Brown [Seth].)

The good news, as I've noted in previous posts, is that I'm not hardwired for the "But... but... COGNITIVE DISSONANCE WILL ROBINSON!!" response I'm seeing a lot of, but am more inclined to go "Huh, interesting, wonder where they're going with that?" (Not claiming to be a more evolved fan or anything, just noting that this is how my mind happens to work.)

I'm by no means sold, and I'm certainly still not holding my breath that it's going to elicit the same emotional investment I have in the original show. That said, I think overall it's a good show, and it could end up being a great one. This first ep felt very much to me like an hour of watch-winding setup, in which all the players have been placed in position to start showing us who they are but haven't really done so yet.

And this is where I see the most potential, which I'm hopeful will be realized fairly quickly. It seems clear to me that the pictures we've gotten of Josh, Aidan and Sally so far consist mostly of the emotional armor each of them has constructed, and that they simply don't yet feel safe enough in the house and with each other to let those defenses down. Josh and Aidan, at this point, seem to have a relationship more of default and convenience than of actual trust. They give each other someone to talk to about the practical realities of their respective conditions, but don't go much below that surface before the conversation shuts down. Getting the house is partially acknowledged as an attempt to create a place where they are free to be themselves, but the habit of hiding/running away from those selves is not one to be broken overnight, and I'm pretty well convinced Aidan in particular doesn't even know anymore what his core identity is. And then Sally's unexpected appearance throws whatever sense of security they have built in that few weeks for a loop -- here they've thought they were alone, and they're not, and how can they (especially Josh) think anything but Jeez, what ELSE is going to happen?

I mentioned that I think we've seen mostly each of the trio's defense mechanisms, but they also each have moments where those defenses crack and we do get to just glimpse that there's something underneath. Probably the most clearly defined is Aidan's, which makes sense since he also has the most sophisticated structure of defenses. He can laugh when he's supposed to, even get caught up in an intellectual ramble in the course of answering Rebecca's simple question about his career choice, but I have the distinct impression it's been a very, very long time since he actually allowed himself to feel anything but the rush of feeding. But for just a moment, on the phone with Rebecca's mother, it catches him, and it hurts. He wants the house and the routine that goes with it because it gives him a new set of motions to go through, activity to keep up and occupy his mind somewhat. But it's notable that nothing he said in selling the idea to Josh was about actually living, because I don't think it's even occurred to him yet to want that. Living is feeling, and feeling scares the crap out of him. (So basically, he's about as NOT Mitchell as he could possibly be and still be in approximately in the same situation. It doesn't even seem like he's ever tried to stop killing before this "few months" of subsisting on bagged blood, and, at least at this point, I can't picture him ever having had a Josie.)

Josh is all prickly edges and resentment, with the hints of what's underneath mostly showing with his sister. I'm not really sure yet what I think of him because of that. Right now I kinda love Emily more than anything. :-D It's worth noting that, apart from the "moving in" montage covering the weeks in between, we've really only seen him close to the full moon. I'm also getting a strong impression from him of PTSD, particularly with the hypervigilance. (Which, though it makes perfect sense, isn't a thought that's ever struck me with George.) What I'm not getting, though it could be interesting and I kind of wish I were, is the actual clinical OCD he says he has. I'm going to be annoyed if they continue calling him that when he's really just slightly more conscientious about housekeeping than the average guy. And that's despite one of my favorite dialogue exchanges being "I have OCD." -- "My credit is crap."

Sally is the only one who's "clicked" with me so far on a gut level, though I can't really pin down why. Part of it may be simply that her emotional armor of choice -- to wit, snarky smartassery -- is just more entertaining and less wince-inducing (in Josh's case) or creepifying (in Aidan's) to watch. Also the fact that her excitement at being able to communicate with someone, anyone, is genuine and adorable. Of course, it also results in her losing her tenuous control of her form and location -- which has to be frustrating and terrifying, though it obviously happens to her all the time -- and she promptly starts covering with the snark. That continues until the lovely bit on the couch, where she pours her heart out to Aidan, not noticing or caring that he doesn't say a single word or really know how to react. It seems like that reaching for her hand is hesitant as much because it's an honest impulse (he apparently doesn't have a script in his head for this situation) as because he knows he can't actually touch her.

Which brings me to the first of a list of apparently minor differences that could have major impact, and form the foundation for whatever this show ends up building that is its own. It's probably the first one I knew about ahead of time, and of course I've talked about it before, that Sally can't touch anything or anyone -- not inanimate objects, not the guys. But she does cause a folding chair to fold and fall over as she *poof*s out in a huff at one point, setting us up for emotionally-charged poltergeist activity on a markedly different schedule from Annie (who at least had the outlet of making tea and snuggling up to the boys).

It remains to be seen what the ramifications of that will be, but we're already seeing how things play out differently when Rebecca's body is disappeared, so she's missing but not definitely known to be dead. And not only that, but Aidan doesn't seem to know she's anything but dead, which raises the puzzle of whether recruiting happens differently (is there a longer window, and could someone else have given her their blood after the cleanup call?), or if he doesn't clearly remember doing it or simply thinks it failed (recalling pilot!Mitchell being uncertain whether he gave Lauren his blood in time).

Cara is obviously Becca, but I'm wondering if she won't also turn out to be Cara. (And that mental pretzel of names didn't even occur to me until I was typing them out in a tweet to someone the other day, because of the "care-a" / "car-a" thing. Then the realization that the Lauren character has been given the full version of Becca's name followed hard on that. Curiously, Anna Fricke says they haven't seen S2 and aren't planning to, to facilitate independent development of their storylines once they've completed the S1 arc, and Cara was credited as just "Canteen Girl" until S2. So I don't know if that's coincidence or what, but it's messing with my head.) And she's the point of overlap with events that occurred months later for the UK folks.

I'm tempted to say the simple fact that Aidan can see his reflection could almost explain all by itself how completely different he is from Mitchell. When he looked in the mirror in his locker, he wasn't checking his hair or making sure there wasn't anything in his teeth. He was checking his face. And since they put it at the beginning, I could picture him practicing in the mirror every time he cracked an expression for the rest of the hour. He can control what shows on his surface because he can see it. As for other vampire rules... I dunno. So far I'm finding Bishop annoying and nothing more, to the point where I can't not be distracted by the stupid hair (seriously, there is no way in hell I'm ever going to believe it's grown on that man's head that color, and I should point out that I've never seen him in anything else), and his demonstrating any degree of mental whammy isn't exactly helping there. I don't know that I have strong feelings one way or the other on the "no on food, yes on bagged blood" thing, except that it's a sacrifice of distinctiveness and I'd like to see it be for a reason. With that oh-so-meticulously-constructed artificial persona of his, Aidan needs all the quirks he can get if he's going to get any kind of emotional connection from the audience any time soon. So far he's just interesting on an intellectual level.

As long as they have that long, luxurious 13 episodes to tell their story in, I really wish we could have seen a bit more of human!Rebecca, but I guess there's not really a practical way they could have done that and still given the necessary clear and upfront demonstration of what the stakes are for Aidan. Still, it was enough of a glimpse of "normal and generally nice" to have something to contrast to when she does turn up as a vampire.

As noted above, I like Emily, and love her busting Josh's chops as only a sibling can truly get away with. He left them a note! Saying "don't worry!" *facepalm* Oh, honey. Decently organic, show-don't-tell introduction of her sexuality and Josh's not-quite-acceptance of it: "So that's your..." -- "Girlfriend? Yes." And very nice sibling chemistry there; I totally buy that they love each other to bits and can exasperate each other like no one else as a direct result.

So, very long story (this is me, after all) short, pretty much all of this is extrapolation and potential, and I won't be sold until the potential is realized. But it's there, and that pleases me.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 22nd, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)
I appreciate your faith in my professional judgment, but I think I just tend to default to finding in-universe explanations whenever possible. :-D Actually, I kind of regret reading quite so much interview stuff, because I don't know if I would have read it as specifically and as a deliberate choice without the quotes from Witwer about Aidan being ultra-compartmentalized.

If I'm right, though, it's a risk I respect, because many if not most people are just going to get the bad-actor impression. And some of those might or might not be around to care when the dam breaks and he does start confronting this locked-up stuff.

I've been thinking the names would drive me buggy, but I'm already getting used to them.

Edited at 2011-01-22 01:16 am (UTC)
Jan. 22nd, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)
I think all around the characters are just a lot less easy to like. It's not even that there's something wrong with Josh. But George's sort of frantic feminine mode was a lot more instantly interesting and endearing.

I don't quite know why I should/would keep watching this one, except that I do think Witwer is a capable actor and have liked him in the past.
Jan. 22nd, 2011 02:17 pm (UTC)
I do think that's true now, and I hope my hunch is right, that they're taking a chance on audience sticking around to see them get more likeable.

I'm personally driven up the WALL by George in full frantic mode, so that particular detail is not a good example for me. :-) But I do sort of generally agree. That said, I didn't like anyone, even George, all that much more in the BBC pilot than I did these guys, and this is almost entirely pilot material. So I can't help still being in "wait and see" mode.
Jan. 22nd, 2011 02:26 pm (UTC)
I think you're pretty rare in having seen the pilot before seeing the rest of S1-UK. Maybe I'm wrong. But I didn't see it until well after. And it's a good thing too, because the original Annie was like nails on a chalkboard and original Mitchell just kinda meh. I wouldn't have tuned in for a second round if that had been my first exposure.

I think actually having to deal with George when he's like that would be awful. But since he's on my TV... *pats him*

It didn't occur to me until watching the US version, but working as a nurse in a hospital when the very sight of blood makes you nearly vamp out is...not necessarily the best decision. I know Aidan does it to have access to the blood bank. But still. Alcoholic working in a bar.
Jan. 22nd, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC)
I know! When he came out of the ER or wherever and stripped off the gown & gloves as fast as he could, I said out loud (one of the few times I actually talked to this show, which is a weird but for me significant yardstick) "And THIS is why it's better to be a janitor." Mitchell might be confronted with blood, but usually long after it's separated from the person and completely unappealing.

As for the pilot... I expect there are quite a lot of UK fans who saw it first, since it actually aired on their TVs. And I have met a few Americans who prefer it, and specifically prefer either Mitchell or (less frequently) Annie in it. It's notable that they have a tendency to not be fans of the series at ALL. There's definitely a different subset of people it appeals to, though I'm not going to get into the thorny question of figuring out what the difference is. But I do wonder if the US series will end up developing in that direction and appeal more to those people, or strike out in a third direction entirely of its own (which I'd prefer).

Edited at 2011-01-22 02:35 pm (UTC)
Jan. 24th, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
>"I can't picture him ever having had a Josie."

Perhaps a Josie is in his future?

It strikes me that a simplified young Josie could provide the sort of cross between Natalie and Bella that would be likely to please the SyFy PTB. (I am saying that sincerely, without any more snarkiness than is inescapably inherent is mentioning Bella in the same sentence as Natalie and Josie. ~g~) The Beauty and the Beast paradigm is easy to understand, universally recognized, and enduringly appealing.

~shrug~ I don't get SyFy, and... I find I don't care all that much in this case, at this time. :-) We'll see what happens.
Jan. 24th, 2011 10:41 pm (UTC)
I can very much see that happening within the US TV paradigm, yes. And it could actually be interesting, presuming Rebecca's storyline plays out to essentially the same conclusion as Lauren's, to have such a relationship follow after.

If you do wind up wanting to see it, SyFy has the full first ep available for streaming on their site, and I expect they'll continue. I'm certainly not going to say you're missing something you'll regret missing, though.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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